8 Visually Stunning Places Of Worship Across The Globe
If you were brought up by religious parents, chances are you remember the interiors of your local *insert place of worship here* all too intimately.
While we may not have thought of these as extraordinary, know that there are sacred places across the globe that do inspire belief and wonder, and can take your breath away with their sheer beauty.
Whether you come in faith or in curiosity, a visit to these is absolutely mandatory.
1. Shwedagon Pagoda, Myanmar
No visit to Myanmar is complete without a visit to the 2,500-year-old Shwedagon Pagoda, which enshrines strands of Buddha’s hair and other holy relics. The Pagoda is covered with hundreds of gold plates and the top of the stupa is encrusted with 4531 diamonds. The Shwedagon Pagoda boasts hundreds of colourful temples, stupas, and statues – a repository of the best in Myanmar heritage.
2. Lotus Temple, India
The stunning Lotus Temple is situated in the bustling city of New Delhi and is the last of the seven Major Bahá’í temples to be built around the world. The architect, Furiburz Sabha, chose to design the temple in the shape of the lotus as the symbol is holy to Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Islam.
A true oasis of tranquillity, the structure is made of pure white marble and is surrounded by nine pools of water and lush gardens. People of all faiths are welcome here.
3. Hagia Sophia, Turkey
Famous for its awe-inspiring domes and Byzantine mosaics, the Hagia Sophia (“Holy Wisdom”) was originally built as a cathedral in Constantinople (now Istanbul) in the sixth century A.D. It’s one of the oldest places of worship in the world, and was an important monument to both the Byzantine and for Ottoman Empires.
In its 1,400-year lifespan, it has served as a cathedral, a mosque and now, a museum.
4. Batu Caves, Malaysia
Thousands of worshippers and tourists visit the Batu Caves every year, especially during the annual Hindu festival, Thaipusam. Guarded by a spear-bearing gold statue of Lord Murugan, the caves are the site of a Hindu shrine surrounded by murals of mythic scenes behind the stalactites.
5. Spanish Synagogue, Czech Republic
Stucco arabesques and stained-glass windows, the diffused golden glow and Moorish-style geometric carvings and paintings that cover every inch of the interior – it’s no wonder that the Spanish Synagogue is widely regarded as Europe’s most beautiful.
6. Taktshang Goemba, Bhutan
The Taktshang Goemba (Tiger’s Nest Monastery) is perched on a cliff 3,000 feet above a beautiful forest of blue pine and rhododendrons, and the view is one you’ll never forget.
According to legend, Guru Rinpoche flew to the site on the back of a tigress to fight the demon Singye Samdrup. After defeating him, he meditated in a cave where the monastery was built; anchored to the cliff by the hairs of female celestial beings called khandroma.
7. Basilica of San Vitale, Italy
The Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna is one of the most important monuments of Early Christianity and is an amazing experience for both lovers of art and architecture alike. The octagonal church dates from the mid-6th century and is most-known for its hypnotically vibrant Byzantine mosaics, probably the finest in the western world.
8. Kiyomizu-dera, Japan
Kiyomizu-dera (“Pure Water Temple”) is dedicated to Kannon, a deity of great mercy and compassion. Over 1,200 years old, the Buddhist temple was founded in 780 on the site of the Otowa Waterfall from where its name is derived.
The temple offers spectacular views and visitors can even drink from each of the waterfall’s three streams for purification of their six senses and to make their wishes come true.
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